“Godzilla vs. Kong” (Rated B)
Cast: Alexander Skarsgard, Millie Bobby Brown, Brian Tyree Henry, Rebecca Hall,
Where to watch: In theaters/ HBO Max
I’m pressing assault charges!
“Godzilla vs. Kong” is an assault on the senses: on the ears, on the eyes, and on good taste. (At one point, Kong drinks the green “blood” of a dinosaur-like thing, whose head he’s just ripped off its body.)
After nearly two hours of two giant monsters roaring at and smashing and crashing into each other and into other gruesome prehistoric creatures AND futuristic creations, you too may feel like you’ve been on the losing end of a multi-round Ultimate Fighting battle with a deranged psychopath.
But let’s face it! For a good number of people, what I say about this movie is completely irrelevant. For many, this will be the first movie they’ll be able to see in an actual movie theater in over a year. After more than 12 months of being holed up at home, streaming films on televisions or computers or smartphones, there’s plenty pent-up demand for loud, brainless, big-screen-rattling, popcorn flicks like this – something, anything to take your mind off COVID and vaccines and curfews and lockdowns and economic peril.
So, it doesn’t matter whether the plot makes any bit of sense at all. And that’s a good thing, because it really doesn’t.
Kong and his protectors undertake a perilous journey to find his true home. Along for the ride is Jia, an orphaned girl who has a unique and powerful bond with the mighty beast. However, they soon find themselves in the path of an enraged Godzilla as he cuts a swath of destruction across the globe. The initial confrontation between the two titans – instigated by unseen forces – is only the beginning of the mystery that lies deep within the core of the planet.
If you’ve ever watched any of the Kong or Godzilla movies over the past many decades, you know Godzilla is a hero. And Kong is just a misunderstood softy at heart. Thus, this “versus” battle sets up yet another long, drawn out and unnecessary teenage fantasy duel along the likes of the ridiculous “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”. Two good guys on the same side fighting it out only to settle age-old playground disputes!
Of course, that presents more opportunities for loudness – loud music, loud fighting, loud talking, loud screaming. Bombs! Explosions! (A more fitting title would have been “Cacophony vs. Your Eardrums”.)
All the other stuff is the usual action movie nonsense. While clearly designed to manipulate some emotion out of you, the ridiculous story of the orphan girl who communicates with Kong is the height of cheesiness.
Millie Bobby Brown (Netflix’s “Stranger Things”) reprises her role from 2019’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters”, but is far more annoying and overdramatic than I can recall from that previous outing. And with the overflowing cast – in addition to all the monsters – her character seems to have very little to do, expect be annoying.
Brian Tyree Henry (TV’s “Atlanta”) provides the only real comic relief here. But at times even that seems forced and out of place.
Then there’s the extreme devastation of poor Hong Kong. Godzilla and Kong use the city as their boxing ring. Every single building is pummeled and toppled – smashed to bits, then engulfed in flames before exploding, in a manner one can imagine would bring delight only to members of a certain nearby governing political party. Wink!
It’s epic! And the death toll must have been outrageous. But that’s never discussed. After all, who cares? People dying at the hands of angry giant animals is the stuff that escapist dreams are made of, apparently!
Knock yourself out with “Godzilla vs. Kong.”
“Sound of Metal” (US Rated R)
Cast: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Mathieu Amalric
Where to watch: Amazon Prime Video
It’s hard to imagine a film that could be any more different from “Godzilla vs. Kong” than “Sound of Metal”.
Although they have more in common than you’d think, at least initially.
They both start off loud in an obnoxious way (although “Godzilla vs. Kong” sustains that whole vibe from the beginning to the very last credit).
With “Sound of Metal”, though, unlike what’s become the standard in so many movies today, this isn’t extraneous sound. It’s all to make a very important point.
Emmy Award winner Riz Ahmed (HBO’s “The Night Of”) plays a heavy-metal drummer whose life is thrown into freefall when he begins to lose his hearing.
This is an extremely powerful and touching story of loss and dramatic transitions in life. Its relatively simple premise is bolstered by exceptional performances, which help turn “Sound of Metal” into one of the best films of 2020.
Ahmed is a revelation! We’re told that to prepare for the role he took sign language classes and drum lessons. That dedication is coupled with the fiery intensity of his character’s anger at losing his hearing, and coming to terms with the frustrating realities of the impact this will have on his life.
There’s another outstanding performance as well. It’s so effortless, heartfelt and realistic, you’ll think he’s not really an actor. However, Paul Raci is indeed a character actor, and has been at this for quite some time. He’s finally got his big break, after turning 73 just this week.
Deservedly so, both actors are nominated for Academy Awards. Raci for Supporting Actor and Ahmed in the Lead Acting category. Raci is up against some tough competition.
In any other year, Ahmed would be the one I’d put money on. But this year, almost everyone and their cat believes Chadwick Boseman (“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”) will be awarded the Oscar posthumously. Boseman has won almost every Lead Acting Award for 2020.
But if Ahmed’s name is called on the night of April 25th, just know, he’s being rewarded for the performance of a lifetime!
The film is up for four other awards, and perhaps its chances of winning any of those – Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing and especially Best Sound – might be slightly better.
That’s what we like to hear.
• Dwight Strachan is the host/producer of “Morning Blend” on Guardian Radio and station manager. He is a television producer and writer, and an avid TV history and film buff. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on twitter @morningblend969.